Two and a half years ago, I didn’t know if I’d ever be able to honestly say that I still believe God heals. I knew I wanted to be able to truthfully say it again, though. The night my dad went home to be with the Lord, his hospital room was filled with our family and just a few close friends. It was a deeply meaningful time. Even though he was unable to speak and respond and we didn’t know if he could even hear us, we took turns talking to him, telling him things we wanted to say in that last opportunity, sang some of his favorite hymns and a few people prayed. One of the people who prayed was our Pastor’s wife, JoLynn. I know she prayed for a number of things, but one thing remains engrained in my memory of that prayer; she said “God, I still believe you heal.”
I have believed my whole life that God heals because His Word says He does, I’ve seen people healed and I’ve heard countless stories of miraculous healings. Yet I found myself questioning what I knew to be true. And for a long while, I wrestled with the frustrating fact that despite all of our prayers for healing, my dad died. I hated the gap I saw between my faith and reality.
Experiencing a tragedy disrupts life in every way. It shakes up everything possible. Oftentimes, when people go through something devastating, other areas of their lives are affected. As humans, the aspects of our lives are inexorably connected; it’s how we were created. That’s why when disaster strikes, so many people experience more loss on top of the initial tragedy. Some people end up losing their jobs, some become chemically dependent on substances, some experience broken relationships and others find themselves in financial crises, just to name a few. And yet others seem to stay more afloat to an outsider looking in and the turmoil is more internal, mental and spiritual. This was definitely the case for me. But just because the upheaval may seem less evident does not mean it’s any less distressing.
I have considered myself a strong Christian for many years. That’s not to say that I view myself as foolproof; how arrogant to ever let the thought cross my mind. However, I am a reasonably stable person, firm in my faith, grounded in my beliefs. So when my dad died and I began questioning tenets of faith, it troubled me and I felt guilty. There I was, a Christian, I regularly studied the Bible, I had been raised in a Christian home and well-founded, Biblically-based churches, I had a Bachelor’s degree from a Bible university and I was doubting?!
What are we to do when we find ourselves questioning the foundations of our faith? What consolation is there in the midst of turmoil? God has created us with inquisitive minds and He knows the intricacies of our thoughts and emotions better than anyone else.
I think we err in the school of thought that teaches Christians that any questioning or doubting of their faith is wrong. Some people would disagree with that statement. Scripture is very clear on many issues and yet other issues aren’t so black-and-white; I believe doubt is one such issue. I will say that I believe doubt often leads to sin, because it has a way of taking our focus off of Christ and placing it on ourselves, which is always dangerous. But I think we can face doubt humbly, remembering we are all fallible and recognizing that we are limited in our understanding, no matter how spiritually perceptive we may view ourselves. God fully comprehends and is able to bring wisdom and discernment to burdened minds. He alone knows the heart and He alone can answer the root questions we are asking when we experience doubt. I was asking over and over again “God, why didn’t you heal my dad?” I was angry that He hadn’t because I knew He had the power to do so. I was desperately needing an answer that God alone could provide.
There are many views within the Church as a whole as to why some people experience healing and some people don’t, and that’s just considering the people who believe healing is still for our present age and didn’t end with the last apostle in New Testament times! Some believe that if a person has just enough faith they will be healed, no questions asked. Faith definitely has a lot to do with healing,but in my opinion if all it came down to was faith, a lot of people would not be suffering and a lot more people would still be walking this Earth. Others believe that if a person is not healed it is because they are being punished. I have to disagree with that, as well. I’m not discounting the fact that some people bring hardship on themselves in various ways; there are always consequences for our actions and sometimes we have to live with those consequences for a long time. God desires to restore all people and there are people who have reaped unfavorable consequences, yet have graciously received healing despite their mistakes. These are just a couple of examples people often use to explain why some people aren’t healed and there are many more we could add to this list.
I’ve encountered a handful of people since my dad died who have the condemning attitude towards our situation which implies that we didn’t have enough faith to see my dad healed and neither did he. Those people obviously do not know me, my family or my dad if they believe that is the case. We have never experienced such faith about anything and my dad would be the first person to say that God is able to heal!
Although it’s frustrating for us all, some things in life are beyond the scope of our minds. I don’t believe anyone can fully answer the question of why some people are healed and others aren’t, besides God Himself. We live in a broken world and every aspect is affected by the Fall of Adam and Eve. Some Christians seem to think that whenever they gave their lives to Christ everything was supposed to be automatically perfect, however, any Christian can tell you that they still experience difficulty, heartache and sometimes even catastrophe; none of us are exempt. But for those who hope in the Lord, we have the assurance of Christ’s return for us, Life beyond this world and everlasting peace, which is the best security we could ever imagine.
We see in God’s Word over and over again that He is in the business of making whole what once was destroyed, He brings light into darkness and as Paul says in his letter to the Romans, chapter 8 verse 28, “We know that God works all things together for the good of those who love Him.” So if I truly believe the Scriptures, that means I must believe that He can use this devastating event in my life, not only for my good, but also for the good of others…even though my dad died a horrifying death 4 months before my wedding, 9 months before my brother’s high school graduation and just a couple of years after he and my mother had experienced a miracle in their marriage.
What good can come out of those kinds of circumstances? To begin with, it caused me to examine myself and really get down to the foundation of why I believe what I believe. It encouraged me to seek God. It helped me to re-prioritize my life in about 29 seconds; in light of something like that a lot of things really don’t matter anymore…and a few things mean everything. It has brought my husband and I to a place in our marriage I don’t think we would have reached until many years later otherwise. It has given me new compassion for hurting people. It initiated a rekindling in my spirit.
Today, I can honestly say that I still believe God heals; the proof is in this broken heart that He alone has made new. It has cost many tears, anguish, searching and evaluating on my part to come to this conclusion. Although I’ve concentrated on physical healing in this post, I mean it as all-encompassing; physical, spiritual and mental. God is faithful and His thoughts are so much higher than our own, but He also gives clarity and wisdom to the asking through His Holy Spirit.
I am so thankful for the presence of our Pastor and his wife in the lives of me and my family, for all the years we’ve known them, especially during the most difficult moments of my dad’s actual death, coming to terms with his passing away and the subsequent changes in our lives. God used the remembrance of JoLynn’s prayer in the hospital room that night to spark hope in me time after time until the day I grasped it for myself again.
We are all in different seasons of life and yet it’s amazing to see God use people we love and respect to encourage us in times of need and also, in turn, reciprocate that for others as we are given the opportunity. Christ alone is the reason I can say today that I will wholeheartedly, faithfully, expectantly pray for all in need of healing because I know He is able and willing.
Even though my dad was not healed in the way I expected him to be here on Earth, he is no longer bound by the chains of this life and lives well and strong, in complete peace with God the Father in Heaven…and that’s got to be the best healing of all.
Oh, that the anticipation of eternity would motivate us in every moment we have left.